British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced Tuesday that his country had expelled two Belarusian diplomats, in response to a similar measure taken by Belarus against two British diplomats a day earlier.

“The United Kingdom will not be intimidated by the attempts of (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko’s regime to prevent us from speaking about fraudulent elections and despicable violence against the Belarusian people,” the minister wrote in a tweet.

“Today, we expelled two Belarusian diplomats in response to the unjustified expulsion of British diplomats,” he added.

On Monday, Belarus declared two British diplomats “persona non grata”, according to what the Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said, “because of their inconsistent activities… with the status of a diplomat”.

The Belarusian public channel ONT stated that the decision related to the military attaché, Timothy White Boykott, and the assistant of the British ambassador, Lisa Thamwood, who were suspected of “having gathered information about the political situation in Belarus and the protests”.

On Monday, London considered the decision to expel two of its diplomats “completely unjustified” and said that “they were legally watching demonstrations in Minsk”.

London also denounced Lukashenko’s behavior, saying that he should “agree to holding free and fair elections” instead of “attacking those who highlight his repression”.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, faces an unprecedented protest movement since his re-election in early August in a vote that the opposition and Western countries deemed fraudulent.

Every Sunday since August, tens of thousands of Belarusians have demonstrated in the streets of the capital to demand his departure.

However, Lukashenko resisted street pressure and intensified his strikes against the opposition, arresting its most prominent figures or pushing them into exile abroad.

On Monday, the Belarusian opposition condemned a new wave of repression, the day after the arrest of more than a thousand people.

In late September, the United Kingdom announced sanctions, in coordination with Canada, targeting eight Belarusian officials, including President Lukashenko, for the suppression of the protest movement.

In early October, Britain recalled its ambassador to Belarus, following the example of other European countries.

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